The 5 Cheapest Caribbean Islands to Live In: A Guide For Expats and Retirees

Stock photo of Antigua, One Of The Cheapest Caribbean Island Places To Live In
Author:
Rihab Saad

Managing Director
Next Generation Equity

Are you dreaming of an idyllic tropical escape that doesn’t empty your savings account? Look no further as we unveil the ultimate guide to the cheapest Caribbean island destinations for ex-pats and retirees looking for an affordable paradise. Whether you’re seeking a budget-friendly haven for retirement or simply craving a more laid-back lifestyle, the Caribbean offers countless breathtaking, wallet-friendly destinations that cater to different preferences, budgets, and desires.

As you prepare to start a new, sun-soaked chapter surrounded by white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and vibrant local culture, you’ll find invaluable insights in this article about the most affordable Caribbean islands. We’ll show you places where you can savor a high-quality lifestyle without compromising on cost. From Antigua and Barbuda to Saint Lucia, these tropical gems boast friendly tax policies, fantastic real estate options, and enticing investment opportunities.

The 5 Cheapest Caribbean Islands to Live In

Several islands stand out for their low expenses, stunning landscapes, and plentiful amenities. Let’s take a closer look at some economical Caribbean islands to make your new home.

1. Saint Lucia

The cost of living in Saint Lucia is significantly more economical than in the US or many European countries. Residents enjoy a tax-friendly system, high quality of life, and affordable prices in various aspects. Rental prices vary depending on the location, with a one-bedroom apartment in Castries city center costing around USD 480 per month, while further from the city center, the price drops to approximately USD 250 per month.

Regarding dining out, there’s a wide variety of options to choose from, offering different cuisines at various price points. You can find budget-friendly meals for just USD 5, while a three-course dinner for two people at a mid-range restaurant costs about USD 29.

Opting to live in Saint Lucia or any other Caribbean island brings with it an affordable, high-quality lifestyle that comes at a lower cost of living than in many Western countries. Each island possesses unique features and benefits, but they all share a picturesque, tropical setting that appeals to those ready to make the big move. By conducting thorough research and preparing accordingly, you’ll be able to find the ideal Caribbean island to call home while enjoying lowered living expenses and an extraordinary quality of life.

  • Rent: USD 250 – 480 for a one-bedroom apartment in city center.
  • Food: USD 300 – 450 for groceries; dining out can add $150 – $250.
  • Transport: USD 60 – 110.
  • Utilities: USD 75 – 125.
  • Other: USD150 – 250.
  • Total monthly expenses range: USD 835 to 1,415

Hotel costs:

  • Budget: $60 – $100 per night
  • Mid-range: $120 – $200 per night
  • Luxury: $250 – $500+ per night

2. Dominica

Dominica, often referred to as the “Nature Isle of the Caribbean,” is an ideal choice for those seeking a peaceful and affordable lifestyle amidst lush rainforests and rugged mountains. The cost of living here is approximately 30% lower than in the US and UK, making it a budget-friendly option. For a single person, monthly expenses (excluding rent) average around USD 800, and for a family of four, about USD 2,800 per month.

When it comes to housing, Dominica offers reasonably priced options. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs about USD 500 per month, while the same apartment outside the city center is typically priced around USD 350 per month. The island’s healthcare system is accessible and affordable, but expatriates often opt for private health insurance for comprehensive coverage, including emergency evacuation.

Dominica’s appeal lies not just in its affordability but also in its unspoiled natural beauty, from hot springs and waterfalls to diverse marine life. The island’s laid-back lifestyle, coupled with lower living costs, makes it an attractive destination for those looking to enjoy a serene, nature-centric life in the Caribbean.

  • Rent: USD 350 – 500 for a one-bedroom apartment in city center.
  • Food: USD 300 – 450 for groceries; dining out can add USD 150 – 250.
  • Transport: USD 50 – 100 (public transport or fuel costs).
  • Utilities: USD 80 – 120.
  • Other: USD 150 – 250.
  • Total monthly expenses range: USD 930 to 1,420

Hotel costs:

  • Budget: $50 – $80 per night
  • Mid-range: $100 – $150 per night
  • Luxury: $200 – $400+ per night

3. Grenada

Nestled among its Caribbean neighbors, Grenada stands out as one of the most budget-friendly destinations in the region. With the cost of living lower than that of the US and many other Caribbean islands, you won’t have to break the bank to savor the island lifestyle.

When dining out in Grenada, you can relish delicious local dishes without spending a fortune. A scrumptious meal at a cozy local eatery will only set you back around USD 7, while a three-course dinner for two at a mid-range restaurant comes at a reasonable price of approximately USD 70.

If you’re planning to make Grenada home, the rental market has great affordability. In the heart of the city, a one-bedroom apartment averages a modest monthly rate of USD 400. For those seeking a quieter setting outside the urban area, rents drop significantly to about USD 340 per month, letting you save even more in this tropical paradise.

Furthermore, Grenada boasts clear seas, beautiful beaches, warm people, and sumptuous local cuisine. Combined with low living expenses, it’s hard to resist the allure of this charming Caribbean island.

  • Rent: USD 400 – 600 for a one-bedroom apartment in city center.
  • Food: USD 350 – 500 for groceries; dining out can add USD 150 – 300.
  • Transport: USD 70 – 120.
  • Utilities: USD 90 – 140.
  • Other: USD 150 – 300.
  • Total monthly expenses range: USD 1,060 to 1,660

Hotel costs:

  • Budget: $60 – $100 per night
  • Mid-range: $120 – $200 per night
  • Luxury: $250 – $500+ per night

4. Saint Kitts and Nevis

Living in Saint Kitts and Nevis is moderately affordable, with a relatively low cost of living. While some goods might be more expensive due to import necessities, the island’s favorable tax system helps compensate for these additional expenses. Dine at a budget-friendly restaurant for just USD 11, or enjoy a full three-course meal for two at a mid-range establishment for approximately USD 92.

Rental prices vary according to location – a one-bedroom apartment in the heart of the city will cost you around USD 850 per month, while if you choose to live further from the city center, the price drops to about USD 600 per month. This beautiful Caribbean destination offers a range of accommodations that cater to different preferences and budgets.

Healthcare on the island is readily available to all residents, including access to hospitals and private clinics. However, it is recommended to have private health insurance in place for emergency evacuation coverage, ensuring you receive the best medical treatment possible when needed.

In summary, Saint Kitts and Nevis provide an attractive balance of moderate living costs and a high-quality lifestyle. With its idyllic beaches, delicious cuisine, and welcoming atmosphere, this Caribbean gem remains an appealing choice for expats, families, and retirees alike.

  • Rent: USD 600 – 850 for a one-bedroom apartment in city center.
  • Food: USD 400 – 550 for groceries; dining out can add USD 200 – 350.
  • Transport: USD 80 – 150.
  • Utilities: USD 100 – 150.
  • Other: USD 200 – 350.
  • Total monthly expenses range: USD 1,380 to 2,050

Hotel costs:

  • Budget: $70 – $120 per night
  • Mid-range: $150 – $250 per night
  • Luxury: $300 – $600+ per night

5. Antigua and Barbuda

Known for its white sand beaches, tropical climate, and easygoing atmosphere, Antigua and Barbuda offers a cost of living about 20% lower than the US and UK. Monthly expenses for a single person are roughly USD 1,100 (excluding rent), and for a family of four, it’s around USD 3,900 (also excluding rent) per month.

Rental costs depend on the location, with a one-bedroom city-center apartment priced at around USD1,000 per month, while further out, it drops to around USD 740 per month. Although healthcare is mainly free through the Medical Benefit Schemes, private health insurance for emergency evacuation coverage is recommended.

  • Rent: USD 1,000 – 1,500 for a one-bedroom apartment in city center.
  • Food: USD 400 – 600 for groceries; dining out can add USD 200 – 400.
  • Transport: USD 100 – 200 (public transport or fuel costs).
  • Utilities (electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage): USD 100 – 150.
  • Other (internet, leisure, clothing): USD 200 – 300.
  • Total monthly expenses range: USD 1,800 to 2,750

Hotel costs:

  • Budget: $80 – $120 per night
  • Mid-range: $150 – $250 per night
  • Luxury: $300 – $600+ per night

Planning to Retire to the Caribbean? Check out our article: The Best Caribbean Island To Retire In

A photo of the beach in Saint Lucia, a Caribbean Island.

Top 7 Reasons to Move to the Caribbean

1. Tropical Paradise Lifestyle

The Caribbean is synonymous with a paradise-like setting, offering idyllic beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush landscapes. Living here means daily access to some of the world’s most beautiful natural scenery.

2. Favorable Climate

Enjoy a warm, tropical climate year-round, perfect for endless outdoor activities and eliminating the need for heavy winter clothing.

3. Lower Cost of Living

Many islands in the Caribbean offer a cost of living significantly lower than in North America and Europe, with affordable housing, food, and healthcare.

4. Relaxed Pace of Life

Experience a laid-back, stress-free lifestyle that’s perfect for those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of city living.

5. Friendly Communities

The Caribbean is known for its warm and welcoming communities, making it easy for expatriates to settle in and feel at home.

6. Rich Cultural Experiences

From vibrant music and dance to diverse cuisines and traditions, the Caribbean offers a culturally enriching experience.

7. Opportunities for Investment and Business

Growing economies and Golden Visa programs present ample opportunities for investment and entrepreneurship, particularly in real estate and tourism.

8. Attractive Tax Incentives

Many Caribbean nations offer significant tax advantages, such as no capital gains tax, no inheritance tax, and low income and corporate tax rates. These incentives make the region particularly appealing for business owners, investors, and retirees looking to maximize their financial efficiency.

An aerial view of the seashores of a Caribbean island.

How to Move to the Caribbean

Moving to the Caribbean through a Golden Visa program is an increasingly popular route for those seeking a new life in paradise while making a sound investment. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make this dream a reality:

1. Research and Choose a Country

Research the various Caribbean countries that offer Golden Visa programs. Click here to see the full list. Consider factors like lifestyle, climate, culture, cost of living, and the specifics of each country’s program, including investment requirements and benefits. Notable options include Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia.

2. Understand the Investment Requirements

Each Golden Visa program has its own set of investment criteria. Common options include investing in real estate, making a donation to a national fund, or investing in government-approved projects. The investment amount can vary significantly from one country to another.

3. Assess Eligibility

Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria for the Golden Visa program of your choice. Common requirements include having a clean criminal record, being in good health, and possessing the financial means to make the required investment.

4. Prepare Documentation

Gather all necessary documentation. This typically includes a valid passport, proof of funds, health insurance, a background check, and other personal documents. The exact requirements will vary depending on the country.

5. Apply for the Program

Submit your application along with the required documentation and the investment. This can be done through our authorized agents or directly through the country’s citizenship by investment unit.

6. Due Diligence Checks

The country will conduct due diligence checks after applying. This process can take several months and includes background checks to ensure the legitimacy and character of your funds.

7. Approval and Investment

Once your application is approved, you must complete your investment. This could mean purchasing real estate, transferring funds to the national development fund, or fulfilling other investment criteria as per the program.

8. Receive Residency or Citizenship

Upon completing the investment, you will be granted residency or citizenship, depending on the program. This typically includes a residency card or passport of the country.

9. Compliance and Renewal

Depending on the program, you may need to comply with certain conditions, like maintaining your investment for a set period. Also, keep track of any renewal requirements or timelines.

Moving to the Caribbean via a Golden Visa program is not just about relocating; it’s about investing in a lifestyle and potentially gaining significant benefits, including increased global mobility, tax advantages, and a higher quality of life. With careful planning, due diligence, and the right investment, the Caribbean can become more than just a vacation destination – it can become your new home.

A photo of the beach at Saint Kitts, a Caribbean Island.

Tips for Saving On Costs in the Caribbean

In this section, we will share some helpful tips for saving on living costs and ensuring you make the most of your tropical lifestyle.

Food & Groceries

Exploring local markets and fruit and vegetable stands can help you save on groceries, as imported products tend to be more expensive. Focusing on locally produced items in countries like Saint Lucia can keep your grocery budget in check.

Many Caribbean islands offer a balanced cost of living, with a favorable tax system that offsets some of the higher prices for imported goods. It pays to shop around, as there are numerous options for a diverse range of cuisines available, all at varying price points. Local and imported beers are typically more affordable than in other regions, meaning you won’t have to break the bank to enjoy a drink when heading out for meals or social occasions.

Transportation Costs

Transportation costs, including public transportation, taxis, and ferries, are another major factor to consider when cutting living expenses. Efficient bus networks and low-cost ferries are a fantastic budget-friendly option throughout the Caribbean, especially in areas like Saint Lucia and Saint Kitts and Nevis, where taxi fares can be very expensive.

Healthcare & Education

Healthcare and education are important considerations when calculating the cost of living in the Caribbean. Saint Lucia and Saint Kitts and Nevis offer free and compulsory education for certain ages, as well as universities and private schools.

These islands also provide healthcare services through public hospitals and private clinics, but it’s vital to have private insurance for emergency evacuation coverage.

Real Estate In The Caribbean

Like anywhere, when it comes to renting a property in the Caribbean, costs depend on the location and property type. Living in city centers can be more expensive than in suburban areas, so it’s essential to balance your budget with your lifestyle preferences.

If you are looking to purchase property, some Caribbean countries offer real estate investment opportunities that can lead to acquiring citizenship through the respective Citizenship by Investment Program. For example, you can obtain citizenship in Saint Lucia for as little as a USD 200,000 approved real estate investment. By obtaining citizenship in a Caribbean country like this, you are opening yourself up to extra savings through the tax-friendly environments that the governments have put in place.

By focusing on areas where you can cut costs and taking advantage of local resources, you can enjoy an affordable and fulfilling life in the Caribbean, complete with delicious local cuisine and a rich, vibrant culture.

Stock Photo of Grenada

Discover Your Affordable Caribbean Paradise

In conclusion, the Caribbean offers an unparalleled range of affordable and exquisite island paradises for those seeking to embrace a tropical lifestyle without sacrificing their financial stability. Through careful research and preparations, expats and retirees alike can enjoy an extraordinary quality of life in these budget-friendly island havens.

By taking advantage of cost-cutting strategies such as shopping at local markets, optimizing transportation options, securing appropriate healthcare coverage, and exploring unique real estate opportunities, your dream of living in the Caribbean doesn’t have to remain a fantasy. The enchanting islands highlighted in this guide illustrate that it is indeed possible to live luxuriously on a budget amidst a stunningly picturesque environment.

So, pack your bags, soak up the sun, and relish every delightful moment of making one of these enchanting islands your very own tropical paradise!

FAQs

Which cheapest Caribbean island has the highest cost of living?

The Caribbean island with the highest cost of living is the Cayman Islands. According to the Cost of Living Index, the Cayman Islands’ overall expenses are about 3.5% more costly than living in New York City. This relatively high cost of living is attributed to factors such as a lack of an agricultural-based economy, which leads to importing most goods and essentials, and a high standard of living that includes access to quality healthcare services.

What is the easiest Caribbean country to immigrate to?

The easiest Caribbean country to immigrate to is Saint Kitts and Nevis. This dual-island nation offers the quickest route to Caribbean citizenship for investors through its fast-track application process. Applicants can receive approval letters within 60 days, and they benefit from advantages such as a rapidly growing economy, financial privacy for offshore businesses, and a tax-friendly environment with quality offshore banking and insurance services.

Which cheapest Caribbean island has the lowest crime rate?

Saint Lucia is considered one of the safest Caribbean islands with the lowest crime rate. Although it doesn’t feature on the Global Peace Index (GPI), this small eastern Caribbean island has a friendly population of around 200,000 people and attracts tourists due to its general safety.

Are the Caribbean islands easy to access?

These islands have international airports that are well-connected with major cities in North America and Europe. For instance, Antigua and Barbuda’s V.C. Bird International Airport, Grenada’s Maurice Bishop International Airport, and Saint Lucia’s Hewanorra International Airport, among others, serve numerous direct flights from key locations.

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